Evaluating Tax Software: An Assessment of the Products CPAs Use
Zarowin, Stanley, Journal of Accountancy
Tax-preparation-software products generally received higher marks from practitioners this year than last year. That's the conclusion of a survey conducted by the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) and shared with the JofA.
A total of 977 NATP members responded to the survey, reporting their experience with the products they had used to prepare 476,000 tax returns earlier this year. Respondents prepared an average of 497 returns each.
Although NATP members assessed 26 different software packages for the survey, only 14 were included in the final report (see exhibit 1, page 39). Products that received less than 10 assessments were excluded because their results would not be statistically valid.
Users ranked tax software products from 5 (very satisfied) to 1 (very dissatisfied). Based on these rankings, users responded with satisfaction ratings averaging 3.99, up from 3.84 a year ago (see exhibit 2, page 40). The product to receive the highest score was Dunphy System's 1040 Professional Tax Prep. Interestingly, Dunphy also showed one of the biggest year-to-year improvements--rising to 4.50 this year from 3.43 last year, when the average for all the products was 3.81.
Customer support also gained. The average score in this category for the 14 products was 3.91, compared with 3.75 the year before. The product with the highest support rating was Taxslayer with a score of 4.39; it was not rated last year.
Network support mightily improved this year. The average rating rose to 3.95 from 3.07 last year, with Dunphy once again leading the pack.
More preparers offered clients the use of electronic filing this year: 89%, up from 79% last year (see exhibit 3, page 42). The survey respondents reported that 60% of their federal returns were filed this way. Some 49% charged their clients for e-filing, up a bit from 48% last year.
[EXHIBIT 3 OMITTED]
Exhibit 1: Tax Software Vendors Vendor Tax program Address 2nd Story TaxACT 5925 Dry Creek Lane, NE, Software Cedar Rapids, IA 52402 ATX Forms Max, Saber 52 Sweden St., P.O. Box 1040, Caribou, ME 04736 CCH ProSystem fx 21250 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503 Creative UItraTax 7322 Newman Blvd., Solutions Dexter, MI 48130 Drake Software Drake Tax Solution 235 E. Palmer St., Franklin, NC 28734 Dunphy Systems 1040 Professional 6740 Huntley Rd., Suite 103, Tax Prep Columbus, OH 43229 Intuit Pro Series 6220 Greenwich Dr., San Diego, CA 92122 Lacerte Software Lacerte 1040 5601 Headquarters Dr., Tax Software Plano, TX 75024 Laser Systems TaxWorks 350 N. 400 West, Kaysville, UT 84037 Micro Vision Tax Relief 1040 140 Fell Ct., Software for Windows Hauppauge, NY 11788 Orrtax Software IntelliTax 13208 NE 20th St., Bellevue, WA 98005 Rhodes Financial TaxSlayer 610 Ronald Reagan Dr., Services Evans, GA 30809 Tax$imple Tax$imple 8 Emery Ave., Randolph, NJ 07869 Universal TaxWise 6 Mathis Dr., NW, Tax Systems Rome, GA 30165 Vendor Telephone Internet address 2nd Story 800-573-4287 www.taxact.com Software ATX Forms 800-944-8883 www. …